Group looking at diverse uses

Group looking at diverse uses

Bangalore: For a year now, a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Boeing Co. and Indian technology firms such as Wipro Ltd and HCL Technologies Ltd have been working on wireless technologies that can make air travel safer by helping planes talk to each other better.

The somewhat futuristic work at the Aerospace Network Research Consortium, or ANRC, also has potential defence applications under which military planes communicate through a secure network with a ground base, using satellites and sensors.

The consortium is also researching how data sent on telecom networks can use less bandwidth, allowing for more efficient spectrum use, a technology with broad commercial applications as well.

“What we do is create technology, make sure it works, build a prototype and validate it. The partners take it and put it in their products," Sudhakar Shetty, the consortium’s project head, said.

The consortium, which began in January at the 100-year-old campus of IISc, India’s premier scientific institution, is also the maiden private-public partnership in aerospace research in India, modelled on the US Aerospace Vehicle Systems Institute, and the first one outside the country’s defence establishment.

So far, such research in India has been limited to the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

Boeing, which eyes India as a major market for its planes, is hoping to leverage Bangalore’s software expertise for building systems for new communication networks.

“Can the (ANRC) research address future network challenges, and can we do it faster and better? That is the answer we are looking (for)," said Ian Thomas, president of Boeing India, in a phone interview.

Scientists at IISc say a working consortium that has a university and support from a major end-user as well as technology partners is rare in India.

“You have to carve out your own product and services from these type of initiatives," said H.S. Jamadagni, chairman of the centre for electronics design and technology at IISc. “The success (of ANRC) is in the eight published papers."

Wipro hopes to use the research generated here to bid for contracts for building networks for the Indian military and also become a preferred partner for the likes of Boeing, said Partha Sarathi Guha Patra, a vice-president.

India, now among the world’s largest markets for both civil and military planes, has little of its own homegrown aerospace industry.

Except for Dhruv, a modern light helicopter in service of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the country’s military plane maker, other plane projects such as Saras, the civilian plane, Tejas, the light combat aircraft and Intermediate Jet Trainer are still under development.